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Operator ordered by CRTC to cease Radio India broadcast into B.C.

Maninder Gill, outside his home in Surrey, B.C., home in a 2010 photo. Mr. Gill, who has studios in Surrey, has an arrangement with KVRI 1600 in Blaine, Wash., to broadcast Radio India into Canada. The CRTC wants to shut him down.

Jeff Vinnick/The Globe and Mail

The unrepentant managing director of a radio station ordered by the federal broadcast regulator to cease broadcasting into British Columbia says he will appeal.

"We are doing everything by the Canadian Broadcasting Act and we are going to appeal this decision to the federal court," Maninder Gill said when reached by The Globe and Mail late Thursday.

Earlier, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission issued a stern warning to Radio India, ordering it to stop broadcasting into Canada from the United States by midnight.

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"Operating without an authority is one of the most serious offences under the Broadcasting Act," read a statement by Tom Pentefountas, vice-chairman, broadcasting, who chaired the panel that heard submissions on the matter in October. "We will not tolerate any business or individual that is broadcasting illegally in Canada. The issuance of these mandatory orders demonstrates that we are committed to maintaining the integrity of the [Canadian] broadcasting system. We will not hesitate to act when necessary."

When asked what the commission might do, a CRTC spokes-person indicated that the order would be registered with the federal court. "And if necessary, the commission will be able to take steps to enforce as it's an order of the federal court," said Patricia Valladao, manager of media relations. But she emphasized that the CRTC feels "really confident that they will respect the mandatory order."

In a crackdown on pirate radio, the CRTC summoned three stations serving the South Asian community in the Surrey and Vancouver area – Radio India, Radio Punjab and Sher-E-Punjab – to the October hearing in Gatineau, Que. The radio stations, which have studios in the Lower Mainland and signals transmitted from Washington State, were to answer concerns that they were broadcasting in Canada without licences.

Before the hearing, the CRTC reached agreements with Sher-E-Punjab and Radio Punjab. While the terms are confidential, both agreed to stop the broadcasts, the commission said.

"We had this conversation with the CRTC," Radio Punjab owner Gurpal Garcha told The Globe on Thursday. "They said you can't do it. So we shut down. We're just on [the] Internet."

The orders do not affect programming that is streamed over the Internet.

In its notice of hearing, the CRTC wrote that Radio India, which has studios in Surrey, had an agreement with the licensee of KVRI 1600 AM in Blaine, Wash., which transmits its programming. Radio India's website states: "In the lower mainland of British Columbia … you can enjoy these programs live on KVRI 1600 AM."

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On Thursday, the CRTC also ordered Radio India to provide "proof that it is no longer broadcasting, and will not in the future broadcast" from KVRI 1600 AM. Mr. Gill and Radio India owner Baljit Kaur Bains were further ordered to not have an ownership interest or involvement in any element of a business connected with a radio station operating out of the United States with a signal that reaches into Canada.

The CRTC on Thursday also ordered Radio Punjab and Sher-E-Punjab to divest their relevant interests and provide proof of that to the CRTC, with deadlines. Radio Punjab was also ordered to not have a future "interest or involvement of any nature" in any element of a business connected with a radio station operating out of the United States that has a transmitter that reaches into Canada.

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About the Author
Western Arts Correspondent

Marsha Lederman is the Western Arts Correspondent for The Globe and Mail, based in Vancouver. She covers the film and television industry, visual art, literature, music, theatre, dance, cultural policy, and other related areas. More

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